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Nepal's Supreme Court refuses to stall Government's Constitutional Amendment Bill

Nepal’s Supreme Court cleared the decks for the government to go ahead with a crucial Constitution amendment bill, deciding against issuing an interim order to stall the bid citing separation of powers.

A division bench of Chief Justice Sushila Karki and Ishwor Prasad Khatiwada issued the order that the judiciary could not bar the legislature from using its wisdom in the formulation of a legislation, on the basis of the principle of separation of powers.

The bench gave the ruling in response to two writs filed separately by advocate Tikadhwaj Khadka and five others including Bishnu Bahadur Raut. “Objectively, the authorised state organ to formulate laws after holding discussions on bills is the Legislature — Parliament,” the Supreme Court verdict said.

“The right to make a decision in accordance to the Constitution after examining and determining the Constitution amendment bill’s appropriateness is with the Legislature,” The Himalayan Times quoted the verdict as saying.

Petitioner Khadka stated in his writ petition that as per Article 274 of the Constitution, revision of provincial boundaries can happen only with the consent of the concerned provincial assembly.

The petitioner also argued that the government should follow the provision of Article 295, which states that a federal commission can be formed to settle questions of provincial boundaries.

The petitioner said the government did not form any such commission even 14 months after the Constitution was promulgated and now it was trying to amend the statute, for which it has no power.

The bill, which was was registered at the Parliament Secretariat in November, aims to accommodate the demands of the agitating Madhesi and ethnic groups that include citizenship and boundary demarcation issues among others.

Re-demarcation of the provincial boundary and citizenship issue are the two major demands put forth by the Madhesis.

Madhesis, mostly of Indian-origin, launched a six-month- long agitation from September 2015 to February last year in which more than 50 people were killed.

The agitation had also crippled the landlocked country’s economy as supplies from India were blocked.